Even though I had yet to fully process through it, or barely even recognize it, seeing Jesus in small moments (that somehow weren’t small at all) began before I even left the Atlanta airport to head to Guatemala City.
I had just posted this status update to Facebook:
“So early morning flights still aren’t my favorite. But really. How many other times do I get to sit in relative silence drinking coffee, staring out the window at a sunrise over Atlanta, and watching a city come to life? There’s something rather life-giving and refreshing about this moment. Preparing my heart to be fully present in every moment, encounter, and opportunity the Lord provides over the next few days. #serveguate”
And I meant every word of it.
I had just been sitting at the window near my gate (caramel latte from Caribou in hand) as the sun came up, spending some time in prayer, and specifically asking for help to be fully present in each encounter I was given.
But then I switched seats because I knew my friends and travel companions would be arriving from their respective flights soon.
I was texting, facebook messaging, and tweeting to keep track of of the rest of the team leaving from Houston, and I was looking forward to the moment when we would all be together in just a few short hours.
He approached me in a moment when my eyes were still glued to the screen … distracted and anything but fully present.
A Guatemalan himself, he started talking about all the gifts he was taking back to his family that were sure to be under-appreciated.
Truthfully, I have no idea why. I was only halfway paying attention at that point, and it took a couple of minutes for me to recognize that my prayer for being fully present in every encounter was being answered far sooner than I had anticipated.
So as I put my phone down (because those messages and conversations could wait…), the conversation wrapped itself around to why I was going to Guatemala. What would I be doing and where would I be staying?
I told him that I was going on a mission trip with a team of about 20 people to spread the name and love of Jesus Christ and that we would be staying somewhere in Antigua (but I didn’t really know exactly where). We would be serving in various places around Antigua as well as in Guatemala City in the community around the garbage dump.
He nodded and acknowledged that he knew the area and then began to explain how Guatemala City is divided into several different zones. I didn’t understand all of it, but it sounded interesting.
He then expressed his disapproval and disappointment that we were staying in Antigua. In his words, “It’s too American. You need to go outside of the city to experience true Guatemala.”
I said that I appreciated his perspective and that I would love to travel further outside of the cities someday.
But he wasn’t finished yet.
He began to describe the processionals – “They’re like a big parade. Beautiful. Colorful. Many days.” – that take place in Antigua the week before Easter. Holy week. He encouraged me to come down to see them one year. And to spend more time there. He was grateful that we were going to spend time in his country, “but five days is so short.”
“Because Guatemalans love to celebrate Easter, but they don’t live Jesus every other day of the year.”
And then he ended the conversation and walked away.
I’m not sure what this man’s name was and I’m not sure if he knew Jesus personally (though I got the impression that he did not, which made his observation all the more fascinating), but that’s not a conversation I will soon forget.
And I can’t help but pray that, by God’s grace, I would live Jesus every other day of the year.
Not just on Holidays. Not just on Sundays.
Every. Other. Day.